The letter's body consists of two major sections. Whether and how the two sections relate to one another continue to be subjects of heated scholarly debate. The first, 1:8-9:15, seems to have been occasioned by the end of strained relations between Paul and his readers. The second, 10:1-13:10, saturated with biting irony and sarcasm, seems difficult to reconcile with an exuberant celebration of reconciliation in chs. 1-9.
Certainly Paul did not write this or any of his longer letters in one sitting; this could account for some internal inconsistencies. But in this case, all historical or psychological explanations seem inadequate to preserve the presumption of a unified letter. Perhaps it is simplest to presume that it was the collector-editor of the Pauline letter corpus who brought the two sections together. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this commentary, 2 Corinthians is treated as a rhetorical unity.
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